Using Social Media
To connect with young fathers, practitioners must go where young fathers are—both physically and virtually. 2015 data on usage of social media such as Facebook and Twitter shows that 65% of adults and 90% of young adults (ages 18-29) use social media (compared with 7% and 12% respectively in 2005),17 indicating that fatherhood programs should seriously consider ways to connect with current, prospective, and graduating clients via social media and the internet. However, the data also show significant income and education differentials; while 78% of those living in the highest-income households, and 70% of individuals with some college education use social media; only 56% of those in the lowest-income households, and 54% with a high school diploma or less, report use of social media.
This indicates that fatherhood programs should begin by asking current program participants and other young men in the community about their internet and social usage. Find out how they get news and messages and ask what is the best way to communicate with them. It is likely that social media is one of several tools that may be effective for program purposes of outreach and communication. For example, in addition to community outreach, programs should consider:
- Developing and updating websites with program information and useful tips and resources.
- Disseminating information through electronic newsletters and blogs.
- Including photos, infographics, and other images to enhance the engagement of young fathers.
- Using text messaging, apps, and social networking tools to stay in touch with program participants and remind them of upcoming events.
- Using video and music to deliver messages that resonate with young fathers.
- Using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to spread the word about program activities and achievements.
- Content that delivers quick and simple messages and pictures of fathers with their children can grab attention.
- Tagging your organization or tweeting relevant fatherhood topics or images can help build awareness of program services.
- Ask graduates and former participants to “Like” or forward your posts to friends to increase the organization’s name recognition.
Many fatherhood programs now maintain websites and communicate with fathers through social media. For instance, Young Fathers of Central Florida maintains a website with information on programs and upcoming events and the Dads Club at Vista Community Clinic in Vista, California uses their Facebook page to post tips for dads and share examples of short Ad Council videos from www.fatherhood.gov. See Spotlight on … Young Fathers of Santa Fe and Spotlight on … NewYoungFathers.com for additional examples.
Practitioners and fathers can also engage with the NRFC on Facebook (Fatherhoodgov) and Twitter (@Fatherhoodgov). The NRFC Facebook page, which went online in 2012, gained 100,000 followers within 18 months and over 240,000 by October 2016.